After lying about it for months, the Internal Revenue Service has finally admitted that it deliberately targeted 'conservative' and 'Tea Party' groups for special audits and reviews during the 2012 election season.
The IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner, said in a telephone press conference that between 2010 and 2012, about 75 conservative groups were 'inappropriately treated' and received extra scrutiny when seeking tax exempt status. The IRS routinely flagged groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, she said.
Ms. Lerner didn't mention it because no one brought it up at the press conference, but the IRS also targeted pro Israel advocacy groups as well. My friend Lori Lowenthal Marcus, an attorney and the president of Z Street could tell you a few things about that.
The IRS is a federal agency under White House control. Many groups whose politics or positions didn't agree with the Obama Administration's were repeatedly harassed and received lengthy forms to fill out asking for their list of donors and demanding information about group members' political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.Many were ending up dropping their attempt to seek tax exempt status because it simply was made too onerous a process by the IRS - which was exactly what was intended. Needless to say, this is not only against federal law but against the IRS's own stated policies.
Ms. Lerner's press conference was, well, ludicrous. She and her surrogates were actually hit with real questions by the usually servile press corps, many of which they unable or unwilling to answer.
For instance, after Ms. Lerner asserted that there were Left wing groups targeted too, she was asked to name one. Ummm, she couldn't.
She contradicted herself repeatedly when she was asked if anyone at the IRS is being disciplined for breaking the agency's own rules, then said there was no disciplinary action, and finally ended up saying she wouldn’t comment.
She admitted that the only reason the IRS finally came clean was because 'someone told me' ( she wouldn't say who- that the story was going to break anyway on Friday morning.
"The Ways and Means Committee has persistently pushed the IRS to explain why it appeared to be unfairly targeting some political groups over others — a charge they repeatedly denied," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.
"The IRS's 'too little too late' response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS," Boustany said.
“I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday. “An apology won’t put this issue to rest.”
The Tea Party Patriots, one of the groups targeted and one of th elargest groups of its kind issued a statement rejecting the IRS’s explanation and demanded the resignations of the officials involved, as well as calling on President Obama to apologize for ignoring the continued complaints of the targeted groups.
“The IRS has demonstrated the most disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “This deliberate targeting and harassment of tea party groups reaches a new low in illegal government activity and overreach.”
It does, but just like President Obama's illegal campaign donations and his suppression of the active duty military vote, nothing much is going to come of this. The regime got away with it, and the election's over now. As Hillary Clinton might say, 'what does it matter?'
But this demonstrated contempt for American citizens is a continuing theme with this president and his administration, and that's something that bears remembering in 2014 and 2016.